“I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to the United States Senate,” Coats said in a press release March 24. “This was not an easy decision. While I believe I am well-positioned to run a successful campaign for another six-year term, I have concluded that the time has come to pass this demanding job to the next generation of leaders.”
Coats served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 until 1989 when he assumed Dan Quayle’s seat in the Senate until 1999. From 2001 until 2005 he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany and then returned to the Senate in 2011, the seat from which he will be leaving in 2017.
Already there have been a number of politicians who have expressed interest in campaigning to fill Coats’ soon-to-be-empty seat and still others Hoosiers have been hoping will entertain a bid.
Eric Holcomb, former chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, gathered a group of his supporters March 26 to announce the start of his campaign for the seat.
“The reason why I’m jumping in is because I think we can make a difference in Washington using the same approach that was proven to work here in the state of Indiana,” Holcomb said. “And that’s what I’m going to set sail doing, starting today.”
Holcomb is the only person to officially announce candidacy, while others have released statements of interest. Others still have made no announcements but are possible contenders.
Todd Young, the U.S. Representative for Indiana’s ninth district, has also said he has considered jumping in the ring but will not make an official announcement about his candidacy until he has time to think about his decision.
“Since [Coats] made his announcement, I’ve received countless e-mails, voicemails, and text messages from Hoosiers like you, encouraging me to run for that Senate seat,” Young said in a message to his supporters. “Your support has been overwhelming, and I can’t thank you enough for the kind words over the past few days. Running for the U.S. Senate is a big decision, but it is something that Jenny and I are prayerfully considering and working through as a family.”
Other potential Republican candidates who have not yet released statements about their decisions to run include Reps. Jackie Walorski, Marlin Stuzman, Todd Rokita and Susan Brooks and Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma.
Marjorie Hershey, a professor of political science at IU and expert in American political parties, elections and campaigns, noted how challenging it can be to move from a seat as a representative to a Senate seat.
“The difficulty of moving from a House to a Senate seat is that House members tend to be known only — at best — to many of the people in their own district,” Hershey said. “But to be elected statewide, they need to expand their reach to the other 8/9 of the population of Indiana. That’s not easy. It usually requires a lot of money and advertising.”
Many political experts are predicting Indiana’s 2016 senatorial race to be one of the most competitive in the nation.
One of the reasons for this prediction is the hope of many Democratic Hoosiers that former U.S. Senator Evan Bayh, a Democrat, will run for re-election.
Bayh held Coats’ seat until his retirement from Congress in 2010, but he still has significant support throughout Indiana. It is being said that as of now, he is the best chance the Democratic Party has to win Coats’ seat.